By 'literally' I mean several writing projects are brewing in my head at once, giving me a feeling of Multiple Character Syndrome, and no clear direction on which of the three main ones I should work on. Yes, I hear voices, but it's my characters and and projects all screaming at me. At least I think it's them.
I recently attended a local support group for LGBTQ Writers. I was hesitant, okay, downright anxious and nervous at first. But, excited. I had emailed the group leader asking what, if anything, we should bring.
"A current piece you're working on," he replied. "Something to share with the group."
OMG! I have to read? I was thinking snacks. Well, after all it is a writers' group, so bringing a piece for critique made sense. So, I sat, listening to my inner voice, for whichever one of the "triplets" screamed the loudest. One voice eventually drowned out the others. Damn, it would be that one.
"But," he had continued, "there is absolutely no pressure to read. We are a very constructive and supportive group."
So, he says. I shall see.
I printed the opening chapter of a piece I'm working on, a combination social commentary/fantasy-space travel/LGBT romance. Quite ambitious for my second piece, right? I decided on a section and timed out ten minutes of it, as that was the limit so everyone would have time to read.
I arrived at the meeting, signed up to read second. I figured I'd be in the moment, and if I wanted to read, I would; if I felt overwhelmed, I would simply pass. And by going second, I'd get it over with.
I went ahead and read. All of the eight other members had something very positive to say, were very supportive, offered some very constructive suggestions and had genuine questions as to where I saw the project heading. I even expressed my doubts about the project and they reassured me they liked it as it was! I was deeply touched by their help. (I also made a mental note, that I seemed to receive the least number of notes. Maybe that's also a good sign!)
So, here I share a small portion of that reading, from the piece I will be concentrating on, tentatively called
“Faggots make me sick,” snarled the first one, “Let’s take care of this one.”
“Please just let me go.”
“Please just let me go” mimicked the first one. “See, he’s a pitiful excuse for a man. Not willing to defend himself,” he shoved Lance into the fence.
“Defend yourself, gay boy.” He punched Lance in the face. Lance spun around, fell to the ground and the three took turns kicking and stomping on him.
“Three on one isn’t a fair fight,” came a deep voice from behind them.
The attackers froze in mid-kick. Lance had fallen to ground, pulled himself into a fetal position and was covering his head and neck with his arms.
The three turned and saw a tall thin young man walking calmly toward them. He was dressed in clothes from a different time; a dirty peasant shirt, black vest embroidered with strange symbols, brown leggings tucked into knee high boots. His clothes, hair and face were dirty, and it appeared he hadn’t shaved in about a week.
“Look, this homeless scum bag is coming to defend a faggot,” said one of the three.
“Maybe he’s a faggot, too. You a faggot, bum?”
The Stranger stopped, squaring his stance. “Leave him alone.”
The three turned from Lance and faced the Stranger. Slowly, they surrounded him.
He smirked,“Think you’re brave, picking on a single man.” Lance, sensing his freedom, struggled to his feet, and tried to get away, but stumbled and fell, crying out in pain. He tried to reach for his cell phone, but the pain in his side was too great. Defeated, he sat there crying in both physical and emotional pain.
“We’re just out for some fun. He’s a queer; he needs to be taken care of.”
"Yeah, we hate faggots and people who defend them.” And with that, the brown haired one threw a punch at the Stranger’s face. With lightning like speed, the Stranger caught the fist and twisted it away and down from his face, snapping it back, breaking the wrist as he did so. The attacker groaned in pain, falling to his knees.
The blond one grabbed the Stranger from behind pinning his arms against his sides. “I’ll hold him, you get him!” he called to the others. The Stranger, stomping on the instep of his attacker, took hold of the guy’s hands and pulling them away from his own body, turned under them while pulling the attacker down into his knee and catching him in the face, dropped him to the pavement.
The third attacker, furious at seeing his friends taken down like this, reached behind his back and pulled something out of a back pocket. With a small click, the glint of a knife blade glinted in the light. He sneered, “Now, you’re gonna get it.”
“Oh, you want weapons,” the Stranger mocked, he reached over his right shoulder into a pocket in the vest he wore, and drew out a small sword.
At the sight of the sword, the attackers fled. The Stranger, sheathing his sword back into the hidden pocket in his vest, hurried to Lance, and bent over him. Lance cringed, pulling himself tighter, crying.